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Green Country Families Of The Fallen Find Solace, Support In The Air

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An honor guard surrounded the families of fallen soldiers as they boarded a plane for Dallas. An honor guard surrounded the families of fallen soldiers as they boarded a plane for Dallas.
The plane left for Dallas after the families were honored with a water cannon salute - recognizing their sacrifice. The plane left for Dallas after the families were honored with a water cannon salute - recognizing their sacrifice.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Snowball Express left Tulsa Friday afternoon. It's a trip to honor the sacrifice of soldiers in the war - by helping their families.

American Airlines flew the "Snowball Express" to Dallas, giving military families a mini-vacation just before Christmas.

An honor guard surrounded the families of fallen soldiers as they boarded a plane for Dallas. Fourteen sons and daughters and spouses are getting a chance to get together - and get away at the same time.

"And it's important and we at American, we're glad to do it. We're going to be flying 1700 people today down to Dallas," said Roy Harrison, American Airlines.

Operation Snowball is a national effort. American Airlines hosted parties like this all over the country, flying children and spouses from wherever they live - to Dallas.

It's a repeat trip for Ryan Mackey, whose father was killed in Iraq in 2007.

"Makes you realize you're not alone out there. You've got others who have been through this same experience that you can talk to and realize they've been through the same deal and you're not alone," Mackey said.

The plane was almost full when it arrived in Tulsa, and everyone on the special flight had lost a parent or spouse in the wars since September 11th.

"You spend a lot of the weekend crying because it catches up with you. You spend most of the year not thinking about it just because you go through day to day life, but on this trip," said Misty Williamson. "You can stop and everything comes out, and it's ok to cry its ok to sit and talk with everyone about it."

For the children of the fallen soldiers, the weekend ahead will be filled with fun.

"They've got so many things you can do, rodeos, puppet shows, six flags and spending time with your friends," said Cole Diesing, son of a fallen soldier.

The plane left for Dallas after the families were honored with a water cannon salute - recognizing their sacrifice.

The Snowball Express is a non-profit that works through the year to get these trips together. They're supported by everyone from the patriot guard riders, to the blue star mothers.

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